Review: Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode 2: Assembly Required

Editor’s Note: Before reading this review, we highly recommend checking out our review for Episode One: The Order of the Stone as there are spoilers ahead.

If you haven’t already boarded the hype train for Minecraft: Story Mode, the newest episode from Telltale Games might not convince you.  The review that was done for the first episode ended with the hope that the following episode would be just as wonderful and expansive.  Unfortunately, it didn’t meet the standard appointed to it for a variety of reasons.  This new episode taps into the lore, one that you would normally have had to guess playing the original game, delving into the world that Mojang had created for us.  Depending on which member of the Order of the Stone you decided to pursue in the previous episode, you either begin the episode with Olivia (if you’re pursuing Ellegaard the Redstone Engineer) or Axel (if you’re pursuing Magnus the Griefer).  While which character you begin with doesn’t necessarily matter at the beginning, the stories begin to change as you near the middle of the episode, causing you to have to play it twice in order to get a full understanding.

Each path differs in gameplay as Magnus’s path is a lot more action-oriented with the introduction of Boom Town and ‘griefers.’  Of course, we all know ‘griefers’ from the original game as annoying players who would blow stuff up.  Because of this, QTEs (Quick Time Events) are utilized that were so popular in the previous episode to dodge TNT.  Ellegaard’s path isn’t as action oriented and focuses more on puzzles and the character focus from the very first episode.  There is a lot more dialogue in this path and a lot of it makes up the funnier aspects of this episode.  This episode capitalizes on the voice actors that Telltale has gotten together like Corey Feldman (Magnus), who played Mouth in The Goonies, and Grey Griffin (Ellegaard), famous for playing Daphne Blake in the Scooby-Doo cartoon movies that bring the characters to life.

The episode doesn’t stop there, because once you’ve returned from either of those two paths, you head off as a group with whichever other character you picked up in the first episode (Lukas for me) to find the last member of the Order of the Stone, Soren the Architect.  This path also follows a relatively fast-paced action sequence, but falls a little short with its sub-par cliffhanger.  It’s only episode two, but the weird events surrounding the Order of the Stone and exactly what they’re going to do to stop this crazy Wither Storm seems as though it will never be resolved.

Let me begin by saying that this episode is particularly short, like a little over an hour short.  I guess that’s what happens when the first two episodes are only separated by a few weeks, but the fact that to get the entire experience you have to play through it twice sort of pans out well because it then makes the episode about two hours long.  Still, a much longer playthrough for the sequel was expected considering the complication of the events taking place.  That being said, the episode covers the areas following either Elligaard or Magnus and each path allows you to follow and understand more of the world of Minecraft.  There are a few inconsistencies that don’t make sense and some new events that don’t necessarily pertain to Jessie or his/her friends, but that doesn’t label the episode as terrible.  By inconsistencies, I mean there were points in the game where I thought, “why can’t they just do this/that in order to progress?”  One moment that comes to mind is when a character falls into a hole and can’t seem to get out when they could have built their way out as they were able to in the first episode.  The rest of the episode is littered with little things like that that make you scratch your head and ask those questions.

Another issue that impacted the episode as a whole were the amount of times that the members of the Order backtracked into flashbacks that told of the argument that disbanded them.  While I understand that it’s crucial to the story, it took away completely from the decision making and the story that revolves around Jessie and the Wither Storm.  The characters, minus a scene with Petra, receive almost no depth and leave it to the environments and the little bit of dialogue to develop them.  With the environments being the main reason to play the episode, the lack of exploration doesn’t help its case.  For a game that is meant to develop according to character choices, there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of decision-making going to develop the story further.  Hopefully, the cliffhanger ending will pose as an entryway to further Jessie and his friend’s role in all of this instead of being focused on the Order.

The action from the first episode hasn’t left at all and if anything, managed to speed itself enough where you practically have to do a second playthrough just to catch it again.  There are plenty of moments that could have been explained more and it’s upsetting that they weren’t in the short time it took to finish the episode.  Things like Olivia’s disappointment in finally meeting her hero and Lukas’ role in Jessie’s group of friends could have been touched upon a little bit more but the fact that they weren’t makes me fear for future episodes.  It leaves you with a, “oh, that was it?” feeling that should never be felt while playing any game, especially right when you begin getting into the action and quickness of it all.  Hopefully, the third episode will capitalize on a few more important moments within the main character’s development and slow down a little in order to give everyone the attention that they deserve.

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Closing Comments:

Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode 2: Assembly Required doesn’t meet the bar that the previous episode set, but that doesn’t rule it out as awful. The fact that it relies on environments to cover the fact that there’s really nothing to do/talk about gives reason as to why forked paths are rarely done in games.  There are no new innovations and because of that, the story should be a little stronger, but instead stumbles.  Hopefully, with the potential that the series holds, the following episode will focus more on Jessie and give players a much wider variety of things to do, decide and explore.